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QP Shooting - Dangerous!! (PC) artwork

QP Shooting - Dangerous!! (PC) review

"Devious cute-'em-up masquerading as mass homage."

QP Shooting – Dangerous!! is as sadistic as it is adorable. It’s a quest for pudding, accepted by a floating dog-eared schoolgirl aided by a swarm of adorable plasma-spitting bunnies who take on scores of fat chickens, Christmas trees and butterflies. At first glance, it’s kind of hard to take seriously as flappy pigeons launch lazy feather missiles and cartoon train carriages chug along the borders of the screen. Perhaps you’ve not learnt your lesson from previous cute-‘em-ups made famous by Cave or the earlier ventures dating way back to 8-bit Fantasy Zone, but layers of kawaii are renowned for masking implausible challenge.

Much like the Cave games of lore, QP is very much a bullet hell shooter, where more screen than not is often covered with projectiles and you’re given the unenviable task to navigate through a maze of certain death. In doing this, QP both manages to be an easier slice of the genre, while, at the same time, prompting a much larger sense of challenge. If you’re to complete all five stages, if you’re to complete your quest and save pudding from oblivion, you’ll have to do it all on one credit or not at all.

It’s not completely heartless; there’s a mode that lets you save progress per stage rather than have you go at it over and over from the start, and bonus lives come compassionately cheap. In its purest form, though, QP feels like the bullet hell version of Spelunky or Velcoibox, in that you have to expect numerous deaths on your way to learning how to play the game. There was a time when I absolutely knew I would never get past the first stage on anything other than easy mode. I was at the mercy of rapid-fire, shielded traffic lights and explosion-spewing cardboard boxes that stacked out the side of the screen when left unchecked. As of the time of writing this, I can slide my way through it without taking a single hit.

QP Shooting - Dangerous!! (PC) image

Some of that is down to training. Bullet patterns and enemy placement is fixed for the most part (though switching between the four difficulties certainly throws up some nasty surprises) and QP isn’t shy about advertising her hit-box, like all bullet-hellers should. Though not ever-present, appearing either as a default when you hold down the fire button or prompted at the press of a different key, your dog-girl/fighter craft’s speed slows to help you dodge and weave, and her fragile yellow weak spot is clearly highlighted. Her small army of death-spewing bunnies, known as Rbits, can grow in number if you rack up enough points and can shift position to offer different avenues of attack. You can store up to three formations in a single playthrough, starting with a spread-shot, a rear gun and a focused stream funnels fire in order to concentrate on pure power. But these are far from your only options; the more you play, the more Rbit points you rack up and the more formations you’re free to purchase.

Most of these offer different focuses of power: 3-Way is your typical three-branch shot while Twin Cannon mimics the satellite helper guns of the classics like R-Type and Thunder Force. Some imitate less well known games; Umbrella copies the haphazardly mobile secondary gun of vastly underrated Bio-Hazard Battle in moving your spew of artillery inversely to the direction you’re travelling in. Want to fire upscreen? Hit reverse and watch the bullets scroll skywards. Things like Orbit throw an air of unreliability into the mix; with this formation, the Rbits dance around QP in constantly moving circles, throwing out plasma in chaotic, random patterns. Niagara offers limited frontal offence, but pushes the Rbits high up the screen to fire backwards in ever cascading streams of bullets. Sword is an odd one; it offers zero firepower, but lines all your bunnies up and lets you smash them into anything that comes onscreen. Chainsaw is… well, chainsaw is flying by the seat of your pants in exchange for inequitably high amounts of carnage.

You’ll have to be at the grindstone for many a game to earn enough to buy the stranger ways to play, and many hours more to unlock every bizarre bunny setup QP has to offer. You’ll crawl your way through the first stage’s collection of megachickens and CD satellites before running down the garden gauntlet of the second stage complete with a mid-boss giant fir hidden in a chicane of potted plants. There will be bullets, but the really good news here is that most projectiles turn instantly into delicious bonus stars to be collected for wonderful bonus points upon the death of their owner. Gobbling these down not only adds to your chain bonus, for further glorious point overkill, but slowly dials up a hyper mode, which not only protects your life and chain, but allows you to spit out massive damage starts instead of bullets for a short time. How short a time depends on what particular game style you chose to adopt. Attacking players get less time in hyper but see their normal weapons do hardier damage, while defensive players see the exact opposite, weaker weapons in exchange for a longer spell in hyper.

Limiting the entire playthrough to a single credit then dropping in so many different options to cycle through until you find what really works for you is ingenious, but it does conspire to amplify the odd avoidable, frustrating death. QP is a huge fans of neon greens, yellows and pinks, wrapping hyper beam prompts, bullets and bonus stars in similar hues that can meld into one big glob of colour. Under some circumstances, against the busier backdrops, this has conspired to camouflage bullets I’ll ever never see, or spot too late to avoid. The harsh limitations on your very finite stockpile of life means that every death hurts, so having one taken away under cheap circumstance certainly stings. For the most part, though, you’ll have no excuses for your numerous deaths. You were too slow to dodge the descending cage and it’s trapped your Rbit friends and limited the hell out of your firepower until they’re freed. Of that cute Goth girl has stopped telepathically lobbing swords at you and has instead summoned a screen-sized plushie to melt you with its heat vision. Or the onslaughts of balloon-mounted cannons, zeppelin-inspired depth charges and really poorly designed Ferris wheels have left you nowhere to hide.

Succumbing to these things only means you’ve not been able to yet get past the third stage.

QP Shooting – Dangerous!! has managed to sucker me right in not only with its brave you-die-you-lose foundation, but how it manages to provide enough different ways to play that it pays homage to several of the shooters of my past all at once. And it’s adorable, yes that much is true, but it’s just a malicious veneer. But you’re still going to fall for it – just like I did.


EmP's avatar
Staff review by Gary Hartley (December 02, 2014)

Gary Hartley arbitrarily arrives, leaves a review for a game no one has heard of, then retreats to his 17th century castle in rural England to feed whatever lives in the moat and complain about you.

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